Thursday Thirteen

Last weekend I went to Portland, Maine to attend the Kiss of Death writer’s retreat. The KOD chapter of RWA is focused on the suspense and mystery aspects of writing. It was in my backyard … how could I not attend?

Now, I gotta tell you, it was wonderful. I don’t do conferences well, they often effect me in a negative way. But I walked away feeling motivated and with a better understanding of how to persue my passion … writing. Here are 13 reasons it was so amazing.

1. It was held at the Regency Hotel in the Old Port section of Portland.

2. I got to experience the international aspect of RWA. My roommate was from another country! Okay, so she was from Canada, which is just up the road from me. I’m just saying …

3. Mary Buckham and Diana Love did several of the workshops. They are amazing teachers. If you ever have a chance to take a class from them … DO IT!

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Nina and Mary Buckham

4. There was valet parking. Okay, this was just kinda weird. They took your car to some undisclosed location (one guest asked more than once and they wouldn’t tell her), but it was okay, I didn’t need anything from my car and there’s absolutely NO parking available anywhere in the Old Port.

5. Raelene Gorlinsky from Ellora’s Cave gave an absolutely hysterical presentation on agent/editor relationships, comparing them to a Victorian marriage, complete with marrying a stranger to paramours. It was a hoot.

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(Raelene and Nina)

6. Drinks in the lounge at the Regency. Here’s a shout out to an amazing waiter … Kevin! He dared serve a dozen crazy romance authors (and one naughty erotic author) some alcohol! Not just one night, but two! You know the saying, what happens in Portland …

(Oh, that’s not Kevin, I had to get the eye candy
in here somehow!)

7. We ate at an awesome restaurant … Bull Feeneys. An old renovated warehouse.

(I had pictures of the inside, but margaritas and cameras just don’t mix!)

8. Danny Agan, a retired detective from Atlanta, Georgia did an amazing presentation. He told all kinds of stories from his years as a detective. It was awesome … complete with a crime scene recreation. Then I talked to him at lunch and got even more inside information. I know, that totally surprises you, doesn’t it?

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(Danny’s on the right … just sayin’)

9. I got to meet agent, Meg Ruley from the Rostrosen agency. She did another great presentation about being an agent. And no, I don’t have a picture. I have no idea why. *sigh* But take my word for it, she’s just about the nicest, down-to-earth person you could meet.

10. NYT Bestselling author, Lisa Gardiner did a workshop on writing suspense. I am in total awe of this woman and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her over the weekend.

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(Lisa Gardiner and Maine author, Susan Vaughan)

11. I got to do my first book signing!

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12. I got to enjoy margaritas. I know this is nothing new, but it’s still one of my favorites!

13. On Saturday, RITA-winning author, and dear friend of the Maine authors, Kristan Higgins, came by the lounge with her hunky firefighter husband (who helped with Shadows of Fire) and had a drink with  us. Let’s just say I laughed a lot and forgot to take pictures. (Obviously margaritas were involved here as well.)

The teacher in me doesn’t seem to be getting enough attention. So this week’s thirteen are some useless facts I just HAD to share with you!

1. On May 9, 1999 approximately 600,000 gallons of whiskey flowed into the Kentucky River during a fire at Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg. (And a group of underaged swimmers were picked up downstream two hours later operating a boat under the influence.)

2. An elephant in the wild can eat anywhere from 100 – 1000 pounds of vegetation in a 16 hour period. (Ewww… just think of the gas production all that fiber will cause.)

3. A U.S. company came out with a toilet night-light that sends out a green warning beacon when the seat is up. (Does it also grab the man by the scruff of the neck and drag him back to put it down?)

4. Author Robert May considered the names of Reginald and Rollo before he settled on “Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer.” (I bet you can’t sing the song with one of those names in there.)

5. Males account for 60% of toy injuries that occur in the U.S. (This fact doesn’t surprise you does it?)

6. Approximately 75% of human poop is made of water. (This was just a good opportunity for me to sneak in the eye candy.)

7. Ramses II, a pharaoh of Egypt died in 1225 B.C. At the time of his death, he had fathered 96 sons and 60 daughters. (Did the man sleep?)

8. There are approximately 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body. (And I bet those corpuscles get lost before they’ll stop and ask for directions!)

9. Braces were first invented by Pierre Fauchard in 1728. The braces were made by a flat strip of metal, which was connected to the teeth by thread. (Seems strange that in the 18th century they were worried about pretty smiles … but daily bathing didn’t come around until a century later.)

10. The Bible has been translated into Klingon. (Huh, I’ve never found that version at a hotel.)

11. The names of Popeye’s nephews are Peepeye, Poopeye, Pipeye, Pupeye. (Was there an aunt involved in the naming of these children?)

12. Coupons were introduced in 1894 when Asa Candler bought the Coca-Cola formula for $2,300 and gave people coupons that he had written out to receive a free glass of coke. (Then it’s his fault I get all that junk mail!)

13. American novelist Mark Twain was the first known author to submit a typed manuscript. (And I bet he never had to deal with a rejection letter.)

Today is a list of thirteen excuses of why I’m not sitting at the computer and finishing my latest novella.

1. My left pinkie finger has a hang nail and it hurts like holy ‘ole heck to type “Q” and “Z”. Ouch! … See?

2. My muse ran away with my pencil. Oh, and look at her now making obsene gestures with it. Okay, that one was funny.

3. My hero, Nick, and my heroine, Frankie, refuse to play nice and I’m just not sure I’m up for any more of their bickering today.

4. I’m up to my ears doing internet research trying to figure out what they call those wire thingies stretched between the pole dohingies on the grape arbors. See? Even you don’t know what I’m talking about.

5. I ran out of typing paper and Staples doesn’t seem to carry it. Excuse me? What do you mean my word processor doesn’t require paper? *hrmmmph* What do you know?

6. The 19 stickies tacked up around my desk, on my monitor, the computer tower and trailing down over my printer reminding me to do things sometime in the next month need to be read and reorganized.

7. Oh, my computer chimed … I’ve got mail!

8. I need to make a list of euphemisms for “erection”. Umm, let’s see … love wand, sword of desire, purple helmeted cyclops …

9. I have to call my parents. No really … I have to call my parents. BRB!

10. Okay, where was I? *cracks knuckles* Oh, right … excuses… my MySpace page needs a face lift. Maybe a picture or two. Hey did you friend me over there yet? It’s really easy. Want me to show you how? 

11. I need to pack. Yeppers, I’m travelling for the next three weekends in a row. All good things. Still it’s travelling. And I haven’t made the leap to get a laptop so there’s no writing while I’m travelling. That is so not good! 

12. Laundry? Who has time for laundry? Right side out, then inside out, then commando … underwear has a long life. Clean is a state of mind anyway.

13. I’m working on my Thursday Thirteen blog. What? Okay, so now it’s finished … still I’ve got the other 12 excuses working in my favor. 😀

HAPPY T13!

Okay, so I’m a little pre-occupied today. The state of Maine has decided they need to check and make sure the MS hasn’t affected my ability to operate a motor vehicle. I get it … it just bums me out. Anyway, while you’re reading this I’m taking the first road test I’ve had to take in mumbldy mumble years!

But I thought I’d entertain you with thirteen stupid road laws that are actually on the books:

1. In Alabama it is legal to drive the wrong way down a one-way street if you have a lantern attached to the front of your automobile.

2. In California women may not drive in a house coat. (My dear friend Jen … did you make note of this?)

3. In Lawrence Kansas, all cars entering the city limits must first sound their horn to warn the horses of their arrival.

4. In Rhode Island it is illegal to coast downhill in your car with your transmission in neutral, or with the clutch disengaged.

5. In Marietta Georgia though it is illegal to spit from a car or bus, citizens may spit from a truck.

6. In Massachusetts no gorilla is allowed in the back seat of any car.

7. In Utah no one may have sex in the back of an ambulance if it is responding to an emergency call.

8. In Clinton Oklahoma molesting an automobile is illegal.

9. In New Orleans, Louisiana it is illegal for a woman to drive a car unless her husband is waving a flag in front of it.

10. In Pennsylvania any motorist driving along a country road at night must stop every mile and send up a rocket signal, wait 10 minutes for the road to be cleared of livestock, and continue.

11. In Florida if an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle.

12. In Nevada it is illegal to drive a camel on the highway.

13. In Tennessee driving is not to be done while asleep.

In the middle of July my family and I travelled to Antigonish, Nova Scotia to see the Highland Games. It’s the second largest competition in the world next to the original games held in Scotland. And I took pictures with my new camera. It took me two weeks to figure out how to download them to my computer. Then last week when I hit “publish” I also hit some mysterious button and after two hours of uploading photos, my computer ate my blog. Urrrr …

So, the planets aligned, the computer didn’t puke out jibberish and finally … here’s thirteen reasons I thoroughly enjoyed the games …

1. Come on … kilts, kilts, and more kilts!

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2. Everyone wore kilts. The hotel staff, the little children (OMG, a-dor-able!), the Catholic priest who did the blessing (and he was once a competitor and still holds Canadian records), the police, and the Royal Mounted Police…

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3. The Highland Games is a bunch of men throwing stones …

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4. And hammers …

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5. And telephone poles …

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6. And the whole time they’re doing it, you get to listen to the haunting sound of bagpipes.

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7. So, we all wonder why everything weighs 56 pounds … well this guy, the master of ceremonies, explains that Europeans weigh things by “stones” and a stone is 14 pounds. So everything is some portion of 14.

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8. So how did this whole thing start? Well, men being bigger versions of boys, when it came time to put away the blacksmith’s tools, like the 56 pound weights they hung around horses necks, one said “I bet you can’t throw that over the rafter.” And so it began …

large on Around

9. Then they attached the weight to flexible pvc piping, called it a hammer, twirled it over their head and threw it behind them.

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Notice the boots. They have special spikes to help them really keep their feet planted. I can hear it now … “Honey, Jim came over to play in the rock pile … do you know where I put my work boots and carpenter nails?”

10. The caber toss is probably everyone’s favorite event. You take one man, who has to pick up a 21 foot telephone pole, run with it …

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11. Throw it in the air so that it flips end over end …

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12. And hope they’ve thrown it well enough to land at 12:00 from their shoulders. (Notice the judge standing behind him to judge the position.)

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13. So we had a blast … watching the games all day. But did I happen to mention they play bagpipes? Allllll day. Do you know how many tunes they play on the bagpipes? One. Even the most enthusiastic fan will loose it after eight hours of bagpipes!

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So this week I thought I’d actually share a little bit about myself. Because, umm, that’s what this Thursday Thirteen is supposed to be about. So I’ve gathered 13 of the most memorable movies from my formative years… (1975-1983). And I’m not telling you which decade of my life I consider “formative”. Just know that if you remember when they originally hit the theater … you’re at least as old as me!

1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Okay, if you don’t hear the theme music the minute you read the title … you weren’t there! This is a classic Richard Dreyfes movie. Loooove It!

2. Jaws (1975)
Again … with the theme music … I didn’t do that on purpose! The opening scene as the woman is dragged around and the leg falling through the water … OMG! some of the unforgetable scenes. (Notice Richard D. is in this one too.) But “Brody” was quite the hunk. Admit it … you crushed on him too!

3. The Blue’s Brothers (1980)
“Jane you ignorant slut!” Okay, that’s from the best years of SNL (IMHO), but if you get the reference, you know who starred in this movie … Dan Akroyd and John Belushi. I threw this one in there in honor of DH who was Elwood to his best friends Jake in … oh, you almost got me to tell you which year in school. Tsk Tsk

4. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Since this movie featured the music I used to listen and dance to … I had to include it. You can’t help but love the dance scene.

5. Grease (1978)
Since we’re on the John Travolta theme, I’ll put this one in here now. All I can say is that my boyfriend (who is now my husband) loved me a whole lot to sit through a musical at the theater. Of course Olivia Newton John sewn into those black pants in the final scene didn’t hurt his eyes too badly … I’m sure!

6. Flash Dance (1983)
Certainly a cinderella story, but come on, this movie single-handledly started the whole leg-warmer craze that kept us sweating in aerobics class. Don’t tell me it was only me.

7. Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
You couldn’t expect me to limit this one to just the original, could you? It’s the first time I got to fall in love with Harrison Ford. *sigh* That smile of his still makes my heart go pitter-patter. A trekkie from waaaay back, this was a must see!

8. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
And then doesn’t he go and make an action movie and make me fall in love with him all over again! Have you seen the new one? I haven’t … *pout* *pout*

9. E.T. (1982)
This is just a classic “feel good” movie and Drew Barrymore’s first (?) appearance on screen. The Halloween scene is exactly how my neighborhood looks … cars, parents, and children everywhere. Have yet to see an alien in the bunch!

10. Tootsie (1982)
I just had to throw this one in because Dustin Hoffman pulled the whole guy acting as a woman off without a hitch. Robin Williams did it later in Mrs. Doubtfire, but Dustin will always be first in my memory.

11. Carrie (1976)
I absolutely hate going to horror movies. I have a very vivid imagination and don’t need more images to add to the craziness already filling my head. But, I got talked into it by some friends. The only good part is that my boyfriend put his arm around me during the really gory part at the end. And no, I’m not telling where his hand went!

12. Risky Business (1983)
Come on ladies, it’s another song coming into your head. “Just take those old records off the shelf…” And then …

Oh, yeah! A young Mr. Tom Cruise dancing in his tightie whities! You can’t tell me that’s not a classic!

13. Star Trek: The Movie (1982)
I told you I was a trekkie from waaaay back! Nothing was keeping me from watching the Enterprise glide across the big screen. I couldn’t find a good picture from the movie, so here’s something from long ago. And come on, you thought Kirk was pretty sexy!

So there you have it. 13 of my most memorable movies. Let me know if I didn’t happen to get yours up there.

**MAJOR Edit!** Oh, how could I forget a Sci-Fi classic that has stuck with me for many, many years? Logan’s Run! (1976)

It’s a futuristic movie with lots of sexuality. I love the scene where two women enter the “sex club” and dial-up their birth control. Umm … no, this had nothing to do with me writing my first erotica The Healer’s Garden. Okay, you caught me. But I loooooved that movie! I can NOT believe I missed it in the original list!

So this week is all about shameless promotion. Here are thirteen reasons I believe you should run right out and buy my latest release, Blind Love.

1. It has LOTS of hot sex in it!

2. This is the first story in a three book erotic suspense series, but each story stands alone, so you’re not left twisting in the wind until the next book comes out this summer. (Though there is a thread that runs through all of them and I certainly hope you’ll want all of them.)

3. The heroine, Julie Tilling is an uptight CPA who discovers her inner vixen and lets her come out to play. (And we all love that naughty girl inside us! *Spank that naughty girl … spank her!* Oh, sorry … lost myself for a moment. Ah hem, where was I? Oh right…)

4. It’s all about three sisters who own a floral shop in a quaint little town in Maine. And who doesn’t love Maine?

5. It starts with a death and ends with another death. (Don’t you love a suspense story that leaves a string of bodies?)

6. Our hero, Damon Corey, also works as sexy shock jock, Demon Jones. He’s hot, he’s naughty … and he’s single. (Did I mention he drives a Harley? Now, that’s power between your thighs!)

7. Julie and Damon dabble on the fringes of internet pornography. (Maine can be a naughty place.)

8. There’s hot sex. (Did I mention that? Oh, well, it bears repeating!)

9. It’s an ebook. Same in-depth story for a low price. AND it saves trees! You can buy it at Liquid Silver Books.

10. There’s a great family and two sisters who will have their own stories.

11. Hot! Hot! Hot! Sex scenes. (oops, I know I mentioned that before, but they do it like bunnies.)

12. I’ll cry uncontrollably if you don’t buy my book. (Not moved by tears? … Bummer it works on my husband every time.)

13. No guide dogs were injured in the writing of Blind Love.

Okay, so for those of you who don’t know … I live in the deep woods of northern Maine. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. It’s remote. It’s still winter! The joke where I live is that we have four seasons: Almost winter, Winter, Still Winter, and the Fourth of July. I didn’t grow up here. In southern Maine where I grew up (5 hours south of here) winter is icky, but not horrible!

For nearly twenty years I’ve lived here and endured. But this winter we broke all snow records. I think in the end we got 16 feet (488 cm) or so. And then to add insult to injury we broke temperature records the first Monday of spring with a record temperature of -14F (-26C)! Aren’t we the lucky ones? So today are thirteen reasons I’m sick of winter!

1. Swim lessons are going to be really chilly.

2. I’m tired of grocery shopping with the dogsled. I’d like to take my van.

3. This is the machine that caused sooo many problems over the last few months. It’s time to put it away and keep me safe!

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4.  I’d like to have running water again!

5. The poor kids are climbing the walls. (Little boy blue is 6′ 5″ … this will give you an idea of how much snow is on my front lawn … do you feel bad for me yet?)

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6. I can’t remember what the paint looks like on my walls:

7. My aquarium needs to thaw.

8. I’d like to drive on tar again.

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9. Because this is so wrong:

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10.  I want to see my front lawn again.

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11. Let’s face it … I’m just tired of seeing white. A little green and some colorful flowers would be welcome!

12. Because even the birds are tired of the winter.

13. I think my neighbor said it best…

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Okay, so obviously all these pictures didn’t come from my yard. (Though the bulk of them are the actual snow sitting in my yard.) But you get the idea. Pray for me … snow and rain are expected to come in this weekend.

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Okay, but I won’t be here. I’m heading south to Boston for the weekend where I hear rumors of green grass and budding trees. Oh, one can only hope!

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